A nearly 8% tax hike faces Burlington ratepayers in 2024

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Published June 26, 2023 at 12:01 pm

Anthony Urciuoli/hamilton.insauga.com photo

A year after absorbing a 7.44 per cent increase in taxes, Burlington ratepayers are looking at a hike of almost 8 per cent in 2024.

Forecasts presented to a City of Burlington committee meeting today (June 26) show an anticipated tax increase of 7.82 per cent next year.

The prediction takes into account funds that will also be collected by the Region of Halton and the local boards of education.

These numbers are initial projections and come months before budget deliberations intensify. The final amount will be determined early next year.

Pressures on the City that are driving costs include inflation, costs related to growth, reduced funding opportunities and upgrading aging infrastructure.

“Burlington is a growing, changing and ever-improving city,” the preliminary budget report presented to the committee states. “Similar to 2023, the 2024 Budget will require significant investment to ensure residents continue to receive the programs and services that provide for the high quality of life in Burlington.”

Significantly, the report says the City remains in a state of “catch up” as services and amenities have not kept pace with population growth. Some City councillors point to low tax rates in previous years as the reason why services have not kept pace.

On the other hand, expensive ongoing projects will continue to impact the City’s budget in years to come. These include the purchase and renewal of the old Robert Bateman school ($100 million), the Skyway Community Centre ($40 million), free transit for specialized groups, and expanded transit operations, among others.

Meanwhile, the forecast shows that after 2024, tax increases should start to decline. In 2025 the number is expected to drop to 5.1 per cent falling to 3.19 per cent by 2028.

“I look at this number (the forecasted tax increase), and like many of you I’m sitting here going ‘gosh, that’s a big number,'” said Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman. “But if we put it into context then perhaps it’s not such a large number. We are on a continuing journey to correct 30 years of disciplined constraint of taxes, (meant) to maintain low tax increases.”

Sharman said that past decisions to keep taxes low mean the City has to pay now and in the future to upgrade systems and services and to meet competitive wage salaries.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward acknowledged the City has a difficult task ahead when dealing with the budget. She said to cut 1 per cent off the rate will amount to $4 million in spending cuts.

 

 

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